As the 'Tea Party' Prepares to Rally in Virginia, New Poll Shows Most American Voters Reject Its Message

Oct 07, 2010, 17:53 ET from Project Vote

RICHMOND, Va., Oct. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As what is purported to be one of the largest Tea Party gatherings in Virginia gets underway in Richmond this weekend, a new poll clearly shows that Tea Party sympathizers hold minority views on most issues regarding government, government spending, and the budget.

What Happened to Hope and Change? A Poll of 2008 Voters was conduced by nonpartisan voting rights group Project Vote, surveying 1,947 randomly selected Americans who cast ballots in 2008. The poll is unique in that it not only surveys the historic 2008 electorate as a whole, but also includes special samples of black voters, low-income voters, and youth voters, and compares these groups to self-identified Tea Party sympathizers.

Contrary to the claims made by event organizers that the Tea Party frustrations are shared by a wide cross section of America, the results of the new poll show that Tea Party sympathizers — who are overwhelmingly likely to be white,  older, and more affluent — are out of touch with the views of both average Americans and the surge voting groups who so decisively increased their participation in 2008.

"Black voters, low-income voters, and youth voters together represent roughly a third of the electorate, and they will play an increasingly important role in American politics in the years to come," says Project Vote's executive director Michael Slater. "Yet over the past two years the opinions and values of these populations have been drowned out by the anti-government rhetoric of more affluent, older, and mostly white Americans who have organized under the Tea Party banner.

Together, the three "surge" groups represent a larger portion of the electorate than those who self-identify with the Tea Party. Project Vote's analysis reveals that black voters, low-income voters, and young voters have starkly different views about the role of government, federal spending priorities, and the budget deficit than Tea Party sympathizers, and in fact are far closer to the views of the 2008 electorate as a whole. Key findings include:

  • Nine in ten Tea Party sympathizers are white; they are predominantly older, more affluent, and more conservative. Their views on the role of government and government spending are not only starkly different from black voters, young voters, and low-income voters, but from the majority view of a representative sample of all 2008 voters.
  • Tea Party sympathizers, while almost universally dissatisfied with the way the country is going, report they themselves are doing very well: more than three out of four say their personal economic situation is fairly good or very good. 76% are married; 78% went to college; 84% are working or retired.
  • One in five young voters, and nearly two out of five black voters and low-income voters, reported that there were times in the past twelve months when they did not have enough money to buy food for their families. Just over one in twenty Tea Party supporters said the same.
  • Strong majorities of black voters, young voters, and low-income voters agree that government should work to provide for the needs of all citizens. Half of all voters agreed with that sentiment, while only one in five Tea Party sympathizers agreed.
  • Majorities of black voters, young voters, and low-income voters support increasing taxes on investment income, increasing social security taxes on incomes greater than $107,000 and ending combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as a means to reduce the deficit.
  • Strong majorities of black voters, young voters, and low-income voters support spending money on infrastructure, as do two-thirds of all 2008 voters.
  • Majorities of black voters, young voters, and low-income voters, as well as a majority of all voters, support spending the same or more on income support programs such as Food Stamps for less well-off Americans. Two-thirds of Tea Party sympathizers support spending less.

The poll finds that the policy preferences of these three voting constituencies are far more closely aligned with the views of average Americans — represented by the poll's national sample — than the minority views of the self-identified Tea Party sympathizers.  

"What Project Vote's poll shows is that the views on government held by progressives represent the majority," said James Rucker, executive director and co-founder of Color of Change. "We shouldn't let Tea Party activists convince us that we, and not they, are the minority."

To download the report and for additional resources, go to

SOURCE Project Vote